25 ideas to brighten up the grayer days (that don’t look like these photos)

“What makes you happy in the rainy and dark autumn days?” a fellow nature-lover asked on Instagram. She mentioned photography and creativity as examples, and we agreed to make a list of things that bring us joy during this season.

Of course, there is no one way to “do autumn”. Some take a more stoic approach, running in the rain and following strict schedules, whereas others prefer hygge like autumn, being wrapped in a blanket, sipping wine by candlelight.

Do what works best for you but check the following tips first.

Not all autumn days look like these photos I’ve taken by the Walensee so it’s good to have plans also for the gloomier moments.

25 ways to make the dark autumn days feel brighter

Food makes the season taste good

🍁 Eat satsumas, pumpkins and other seasonal delicacies. For example, roasted nuts and melted cheese are popular here in Switzerland, and from the Nordics I would bring at least some crispy gingerbread cookies to the table.

🍁 Sip warm drinks such as mulled wine, hot chocolate or coffee while listening to the rain

🍁 Bake bread rolls or get fresh bread from the bakery.

Yellow pumpkins

Learn something new and inspiring

🍁 Go to a sports, arts or any other kind of course you are interested in trying

🍁 Learn a small, new skill such as sentences in another language, creating a napkin origami or latte art, drawing with left hand, a piano song…

Connect with people

🍁 Meet friends, or strangers through hobbies, Meetup or other gatherings

🍁 Organize a brunch or dinner for your friends.

🍁 Send a postcard or a small gift to a friend abroad


Go outdoors to get fresh air 
and ideas

🍁 To make outdoors feel more comfortable, get proper clothes for cool and rainy weather.

🍁 Walk or run, and listen to the nature sounds or music, book or podcast. 

🍁 Take photos of what interests you. Especially misty weather, raindrops and reflections in puddles look nice in the photos. You can also add a theme to your photo walk, for instance taking photos of all the round shapes or of a certain color you see.

🍁 Collect mushrooms, digitally or physically. With an application such as Picture Mushroom, you can identify mushrooms, collect them to a photo gallery and learn more about them. Pick edible mushrooms that you know how to prepare.

🍁 Make some nature art. For example, collect fallen cones, nuts or leaves and make something creative out of them, even a simple display. Or go out with a sketchbook to draw or doodle.

autumn leaves under feet
autumn leaf flying in the air

Travel and explore the local offering

🍁 Go to a place that has more sunlight or any other place just to change the scenery.

🍁 On a rainy day, take a train, tram or ship and read books, listen to music etc. while traveling. You don’t even need a destination, you can do a round trip.

🍁 Mind-travel with old photos and videos or explore a new place via virtual travel.
 Maybe also remembering the sweaty 40+ degrees summer moments can help us to appreciate the cool autumn days more.

🍁 Visit a local place or happening such as

  • an exhibition

  • a park

  • a second-hand store

  • a restaurant or a coffee place

  • a market such as a design market or seasonal market

  • a theatre, comedy club, circus, concert or cinema
  • a nature path
, an observation tower or other landmark or
  • a spa/swimming place and sauna

This house is celebrating autumn in all colors! I captured it in Northern Switzerland.

Enjoy your home more

🍁 Get a bunch of candles to set an autumn mood

🍁 Consider adding a few plants to bring some nature indoors

🍁 Camp indoors. Make a tent and have there sleeping bags, snacks etc. If you have a fireplace, roast marshmallows and other food over fire. Play guitar or if you can’t, listen to camping related music.

🍁 Organize your surroundings. Go through your items at home and let go of the ones you don’t need anymore.

🍁 Wake up more gently with an alarm clock such as Lumie Bodyclock that imitates the sunlight.

🍁 Do the classic things and watch movies and TV series, read books and play games (also board games).

🍁 Create things. Write, make arts and crafts, create a photo book, play instruments or do other creative activities.

Stop painted on the street with a sunset in the background

Pause and breathe

🍁 Do nothing. Lie down on the sofa, on the floor, on the bed – anywhere you like, and just be and breathe.

 For many of us, this can be the hardest yet the most needed thing to ‘do’.

Add autumn on your wall for example with these photo prints

Text and photos: Helena J. /Abroadland

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